[R-G] Mapuche hunger strike reaches critical stage: Ottawa remains silent
shniad at gmail.com
Fri Sep 10 14:30:54 MDT 2010
Sept. 8 2010
Mapuche hunger strike reaches critical stage: Ottawa remains silentDerrick
When it comes to Canadian foreign policy, business always trumps human
rights. This is especially true when it comes to the rights of indigenous
people. A clear example of this rule is the Harper government's non-response
to a major protest by the indigenous Mapuche people in Chile, a country with
which Canada has a Free Trade Agreement and in which Canada has significant
mining interests <http://www.protestbarrick.net/article.php?id=364>.
As a hunger strike by over 30 Mapuche political prisoners in Chile reaches a
critical stage, international media attention is
their demands for an end to the anti-terrorist laws under which they
were tried and convicted. These regressive
laws<http://uprisingradio.org/home/?p=15580>remain on the books from
the era of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, and
have been routinely used against leaders of the Mapuche's struggle to defend
their land and autonomy.
The hunger strike began on July 12, and many of the prisoners are now in
very precarious health, having lost up to 18 kg.
The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
not include a word about the Mapuche hunger strike. In contrast, over
the past two months the Canadian government has issued five press releases
concerning human rights in Iran.
In August, International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan traveled to
part of a Latin American trip. According to his office:
*"An aggressive free trade agenda is key to Canada’s strategy in the region.
In addition to Colombia, Costa Rica and Chile, the Harper government
recently completed free trade agreements with Peru and Panama. Canada also
has a number of other free trade-related initiatives under way in the region
to bolster economic growth and prosperity.*
**'Our government is pursuing an ambitious free trade agenda by concluding
and pursuing new free trade agreements with many key partners,' said the
Minister. 'These agreements help expand trade, encourage economic growth and
create jobs. The Americas are a foreign-policy priority for Canada.
Canadians have much to gain by being involved in the region, and they also
have much to contribute.'"*
It's noteworthy that Canada's Trade Minister does not even pay lip service
to the notion of promoting human rights. In fact, a free trade agreement
with Canada would seem to diminish a country's chances of coming in for
There should be no surprise that the Harper government has failed to make
any noise in defence of Chile's Mapuche people and their right to
self-determination or to fair treatment in the legal system. Canada was one
of just a handful of countries to vote against the UN Declaration on
Canada, like Chile, has often deployed military and police violence --
and the criminalization of dissent and resistance -- against indigenous land
Activists in Canada have stepped up to draw attention to the hunger strike
and to build support for the just demands of the Mapuche. In Vancouver,
there have been two solidarity rallies in front of the Chilean Consulate
Organized by the Mapuche Solidarity Collective, Unceded Coast Salish
Territory, these actions have demanded the scrapping of the anti-terrorist
legislation, the release of all political prisoners, and reaffirmed "that
the Mapuche nation has a legitimate right to fight for the recovery and
reconstruction of its ancestral territory, usurped by the Chilean state".
There has been no mainstream media coverage of the Vancouver protests.
If any of the Mapuche hunger strikers die, some of the blood will be on the
hands of the Canadian government. Silence is compliance, and Harper and
company are only too eager to comply with efforts to shut down indigenous
You can learn more about the Mapuche hunger strikers and their demands
More information about the Rad-Green